Bootein is one of my more interesting failures, because of how Bootein started in the first place.
After affiliate marketing, that same friend that got me into it, told me about Shopify. Shopify at the time was an emerging platform for e-commerce that was at the cusp of taking over the e-commerce space. We again were talking one day and he told me why are we waiting so hard to get someone to convert on a $7 dollar MILF next door offer when we can actually just sell people products online.
E-commerce at the time to me seemed complicated, far away and expensive. I mean, I was a broke student who just had to pay $130 dollars for a textbook because my prof said 10% of my grade was tied to using someone online quiz thing that was only being sold with the textbook. How could I ever afford products, how do I even pick products, and why would anyone buy from my store online were the questions going through my head, forget about all the logistics of shipping, warehousing and other things.
We both got in to dropshipping. At the time drop-shipping was just getting mainstream big. This is before all the dropshipping ads you see on youtube, and when youtube was mostly still Tai Lopez and Lambo in a garage-type videos. Just build a template site with Shopify which removes the site development knowledge from users, get products from Aliexpress, put them on your site, drive traffic with ad platforms which I learned from my affiliate marketing days, ship orders direct from China to customers and just go. The logic seemed simple enough, so I got hooked and soon was pushing all kinds of products.
I kept failing and failing over and over again with products. You see I am a simple guy, I bought all kinds of spy tools, monitored top drop shipping sites and would just try products that were already done. There are only so many people that can sell owl trinkets on Facebook before no one wants to buy them anymore.
One day I noticed a good friend of mine had really nice skin. I am talking Korean glass skin. I got inspired and starting searching beauty routines on youtube. I fell deep into this rabbit hole of beauty youtube man, I’m talking so deep I still use some Corsx toner and snail essence to this day deep. I noticed these two brands dominating the youtube influencer space. Brands that rhyme with Karisonic and OREO. These two brands were buying up influencers and pushing this cleansing brush. These brushes were worth $150 dollars. My genius self thought these things are private labelled junk from China with just great branding, so I searched Aliexpress, contacted sellers and found someone willing to sell me the exact same products, box, sticker, brand and everything for $30 dollars each. I was in.
I opened my store, started my ads and boom, hundreds of dollars were rolling in, I mean at one point I had $10000 dollars sitting in my PayPal account. I thought I made it. I’m pumped, filling orders from the library, just spending hours a day just trying to buy as much traffic as possible and pushing these products on Facebook. After 2 weeks, deliveries started getting to customers and this is where shit hit the fan. Complaints, chargebacks and angry customers saying their products are malfunctioning, packages saying shipped from Shenzhen, and everything in between when dropshipping from China.
I’m am stressing out, every time I look at my phone I’m seeing emails from Paypal, chargebacks flying left and right. I’m getting cease and desist emails from various lawyers from these companies. I panic and withdraw all the cash out of PayPal because I see the writing on the wall, they are about to shut my shit down and take my money. The day after I withdraw, PayPal shuts me down. I get out just in time.
I’m regularly telling my close friend at the time Steph all about this, we’re laughing, he’s motivating me to keep going and I’m just sharing what I’m about to do next with these products. One day I find out he’s pushing the same products as me and competing on the same audiences that I was. I can’t remember how I found out, but I found it. I was pissed, this dude was a close friend of mine, I’m telling him exactly what I am doing, and instead of trying to repeat this minor success on another product, the dude wants to take what I am doing and replicate it. I called him out, he tells me he just wants to make a little money and leave. I learned a lesson that day and just stopped talking to Steph after that.
I was about to graduate university and realized it was time to stop dropshipping and move on to actually creating my own product. I wanted to build something long-term stable, and actually honest. Or at least half honest. At the time Instagram was blowing up with all kinds of well-branded cheap products. A good example of this is the Tea Detox stuff years ago, I decided I wanted to do the same thing.
I needed cash to do this, not a lot, but maybe $4000 dollars, I also needed a warehouse, someone to make my product for me, a product period, and a concept. I graduated university and I thought the fastest way to do this was to literally head to China, to visit some factories, focus on developing this product and if I needed cash just teach English or something. I also thought the change of scenery would be good for me too. So, that is exactly what I did. July 2016, a day after my 22nd birthday, I was landed in Shanghai and went to work.
I will get to the failure that was China in another story, because I am still actually here, so it doesn’t count yet.
I researched what I wanted my profit line to be and crafted this product called BOOTEIN, a protein-infused coffee scrub for women, I thought I was genius, I saw what frank body was doing and thought I could do it better.
I designed the packaging, found a supplier on Alibaba of coffee scrubs, drew up a logo and sent it to them. I got back two samples and confirmed one. I found a warehouse in the US, and shipped 1000 pieces of this coffee scrub there, paid them $100 dollars a month to keep it there and $1 per order to pack and ship. I actually created a business. The next thing I needed to deal with was marketing.
I decided I needed a serious amount of influencers, so I literally spent 4 hours a day DMing influencers asking them if I could pay them to promote my product on their page, I created a posting guideline, a CPM pricing list and a style I wanted. I would spend my mornings grinding this Bootein brand and my evenings singing ABCs to cute little Chinese children, eating peanut butter and noodles all night. Every penny I had was being spent on ads and influencers. If I wanted to entertain myself I would visit various parks in Shanghai or go to the gym, nothing else.
After 7 months in Shanghai, I got tired of singing ABCs. I was doing it at the time because I wanted a low-stress job that allowed me to enough cash to grind Bootein, but I decided it was time for a change. A friend of mine messaged me saying he was thinking about going to Saudi Arabia teaching at a University getting paid serious bucks, I thought more money and a change of scenery could do be good. So I packed up my laptop, and the few belongings I had and just left to the Kingdom and grinded Bootein there.
Bootein never really picked up steam, I had like 60 influencers and was about $10,000 dollars in at this point into this brand but really never picked up the steam I wanted. I was in the kingdom and depressed as hell trying to figure out if my product sucked or if I just wasn’t doing it right. I loved both China and Saudi Arabia actually, but I had one goal for being in both places and that was to achieve that financial independence I wanted. But it wasn’t working out. KSA had some other issues, but I will get into that another time. I eventually left the KSA and headed back to Toronto to collect my thoughts, I wanted to go back to Shanghai, I loved it there, and I thought I needed a fresh idea on how to push Bootein.
After spending a month back in Toronto trying to regroup and think about how I am going make Bootein succeed, I took another job in Shanghai this time teaching homeroom, this time around, I absolutely loved it. I had a class at 23 years old. I had a Chinese co-teacher I loved, and I was learning Chinese like crazy. You spend that much time around 26 6 year olds you learn Chinese pretty quickly. I loved the job, the money was alright, and I still had enough time and energy to really focus on Bootein. I tried everything with Bootein, the site is still actually online but after another 10 months in Shanghai I started feeling doubts, that this Bootein would never pick up. Bootein officially launched in December 2016, 4 months after landing in China, and by June 2018 I was ready to let it go as a failure and a learning experience. I left everything online, and am actually still paying for the warehouse to this day. At this point it is collecting online dust, my Instagram account I bought actually got shutdown which sucked, that thing had 67K followers at one point. I look at it from time to time and fulfil orders every now and then, but it is without a doubt a failure. A failure that I loved every bit in making and inspired me to keep going.
Check out booteinofficial.com and @booteinco on Instagram to check it out
- Products that aren't honest doesn't feel good
- Leveraging hot influencers to take photos for and push BS products isn't good